Technology

Hopin is riding the pandemic-induced boom in online events to a valuation of $ 5.65 billion

hopin-is-riding-the-pandemic-induced-boom-in-online-events-to-a-valuation-of-5-65-billion

Hopin is a platform for holding events online.

Hopin

LONDON – Online events platform Hopin announced Thursday that it had raised $ 400 million on a valuation of $ 5.65 billion, more than double what it did in a round of investments four months ago.

The London-based startup was founded less than two years ago, but has seen a surge in demand for its software due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopin rushed to see users on board last year when events were canceled due to the health crisis.

Hopin’s platform enables conference organizers to conduct their meetings digitally to emulate the experience of a physical event with virtual conversation and networking tools. The company is now looking to expand its product range, having recently acquired the video streaming service StreamYard and the mobile app developer Topi. Hopin launched its own mobile app last month.

“We are now trying to expand into a multi-product company with a bigger mission to be the company that promotes accessibility in the workplace,” Hopin founder and CEO Johnny Boufarhat told CNBC in an interview.

competition

Hopin’s latest round of funding was led by Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst and IVP, some of the best-known venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. As is customary with start-up deals today, the financing talks were conducted entirely remotely. Boufarhat said there was “aggressive” competition among technology investors to support his company.

The news of the new investment comes just months after Hopin announced it raised $ 125 million at a valuation of $ 2.1 billion, a sharp increase from a previous market value of $ 350 million. This signals the continuing appetite of venture capitalists for fast-growing tech companies whose business has been accelerated by Covid-19. The company competes with Zoom and startups like Run The World, another Andreessen Horowitz portfolio company, and Teooh.

Clubhouse, an invite-only audio chat app also endorsed by Andreessen Horowitz, has grown in popularity in recent months. It has grown to more than 10 million users – including celebrities like Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, and MC Hammer – and has a valuation of $ 1 billion, even though it’s still in beta and exclusive to Apple’s App Store is available. An Android version of the app is currently in the works.

Hopin saw similar growth as Clubhouse. The total number of organizations hosting events on its platform rose from 50,000 in November to 80,000 this year. The company’s customers range from American Express to NATO. Hopin’s workforce has grown from just six at the beginning of last year to 400. However, the company has a different business model than clubhouse and focuses more on corporate customers than consumers.

“It’s a whole different space,” Boufarhat said when asked if he viewed Clubhouse as a competitor. “The clubhouse has a lot of overlap with consumer events. Hopin doesn’t run a lot of consumer events these days. We run a lot more business-to-business (B2B) events.”

In addition to investing in Hopin, Sriram Krishnan of Andreessen Horowitz has joined the company’s board of directors. Krishnan, a former Twitter executive, was hired as a partner by Andreessen Horowitz shortly after having a clubhouse discussion with Musk and Robinhood boss Vlad Tenev. Hopin also appointed a new chief marketing officer, Anthony Kennada.

Stay-at-home trends

The pandemic-induced boom in online services wasn’t just limited to hopin. Zoom, Amazon and Netflix have all been taken away by Covid. However, there are concerns that some of these stay-at-home trends could dissipate as more people get vaccines and governments begin to lift restrictions on public life.

Hopin was “just as excited as everyone else about the vaccine,” Boufarhat said. The company expects a “hybrid” event future that combines technology with large in-person events.

“From a personal standpoint, I’m tired of being home,” said Boufarhat. “From a business perspective, we were a hybrid company before Covid.”

“Most people will agree that you don’t have to travel two hours to attend a meeting these days, and the same goes for events,” he added. “It’s an industry that will continue to grow. We just accelerated it.”

Initial public offering?

Valued at $ 5.65 billion, Hopin is one of the largest unicorns in Europe – privately owned startups valued at at least $ 1 billion. The company says it now has $ 70 million in annual recurring revenue, up from $ 20 million last year and is profitable. Boufarhat said he was already considering a possible listing on the stock exchange.

“While we could be ready for an IPO later this year or early next year, the more likely we are holding back and continuing to be agile,” he told CNBC.

However, Boufarhat ruled out an IPO by merging with a special purpose vehicle (SPAC). A government-commissioned review recommended London’s easing rules for those blank check firms that were booming on Wall Street. Under the current framework, London-listed SPACs will be forced to cease trading after a merger has been announced.

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Katherine Clark